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Master bread-baker Henk Balk of Utopia Bakery placed second in a nationwide competition, the first America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest.

Hosted by the California Raisin Marketing Board, Balk’s “Musliknar” recipe for Dutch raisin bread earned him a trip to the American Institute of Baking International in Manhattan, Kansas. Balk’s recipe was among twenty finalists selected, and his recipe took second overall in the commercial category. Balk also received the Judges Choice Award ;

The Arroyo Grande Community Hospital will host its 4th Annual Health and Wellness Fair on Saturday, Oct. 25 beginning at 9 a.m. Free health screenings for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and other common health problems will be offered, and there will be a breast cancer awareness booth with hospital representatives in commemoration of October as Breast Cancer Awareness month. Healthy cooking demonstrations along with information on how nutrition can affect diabetes will be provided. For more information, contact the hospital’s media relations manager, Anna Scott, at 473-7695 ;

In celebration of the release of her new book, Pet-Friendly Moving, all about finding and creating a pet-friendly home and how to move there, local author Marilyn L. Fidler, joined by the book’s designer Jimmy apRoberts, will be holding a book signing at West End Espresso & Tea on Thursday, Oct. 30, during Market Night, from 6 to 9 p.m. ...

Downtown Paso Robles has recently been overrun by scarecrows decorated by local school children, and citizens may vote for their favorite at downtown businesses by Oct. 29. Winning classrooms will earn awards, and voters can earn mystery prizes at stores where their ballots are cast ...

A trick-or-treating night will be hosted by the Paso Robles Main Street Association from 4 to 7 p.m. on Halloween Night, which will include a barbeque, a pumpkin carving contest, and other festivities ;

The Arbor Day Foundation is offering two free Give-A-Tree cards to new members during the month of October, just in time for the holidays. The Give-A-Tree cards honor the recipient with a tree planted in their name in one of our nation’s forests that has been devastated by disease and record wildfires.

“Just by sending loved ones and people you care about Give-A-Tree cards, people can make a big difference in the world today,” said John Rosenow, the foundation’s executive director. “Give-A-Tree cards are helping to bring life back to our nation’s forests.”

To donate to the Arbor Day Foundation visit

Intern Aaron Gaudette compiled this week’s Strokes & Plugs. Send your business news to [email protected].

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